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By: Don Eitner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The 13th Floor - http://www.tstonramp.com/~freiheit/
PMView 2.0, as reviewed here early last year, should have gone gold by the time
you read this. If not, I can only assume last minute bugs or registration code issues
have hung it up yet again. As an avid beta tester throughout the year, I saw this
product grow and expand in ways I never thought possible, and nearly every new feature
has been useful in my graphics design and manipulation work. It may not be ready
to tackle PhotoShop's market, but for US$40 I feel I acquired an incredible product
with tremendous future potential. Every single one of my readers is encouraged to
buy a license of PMView either for OS/2 or Windows (or both) and to show it off
mercilessly to any and all of your friends and colleagues, encouraging them to purchase
their own licenses. I have rarely been as excited about an OS/2 program as I am
about PMView and I see no shame in applauding the excellent programming skills of
Mr. Peter Nielsen. http://www.pmview.com
Another splendid program, PMMail/2, received a minor update to v2.1 in the latter
part of the year. Nothing amazing in the upgrade but it does offer a little more
flexibility in scripting filters, bug fixes, and of course updated contact information
since the program changed hands from SouthSoft, Inc. to Blueprint Software Works.
This version won't change your life, unless you're still using an old 1.9x release,
but it's worth checking out at http://www.blueprintsoftwareworks.com/products.html
Who could forget the release of Netscape Communicator 4.61 for OS/2? This was
a hefty update from the 4.04 release and is well worth the download! For those still
using the ancient 2.02 release of Navigator, 4.61 brings back the full drag and
drop support and adds to it support for the PNG graphic format, updated HTML and
the What's Related tool which acts as an "intelligent" search engine,
providing a list of links related to the site you are currently viewing with the
aid of Netscape's own internet portal site. The documentation for 4.61 does not
mention OS/2 Warp 3 support, but it does mention Warp Server 4 which is based on
the Warp 3 codebase, so it's safe to assume it would work on Warp 3 just that you
wouldn't get any official support for it from IBM (as if you would anyway).
Perhaps of least importance to the average OS/2 user, OS/2 Warp Server For eBusiness
(Warp Server 4.5) was released in the first half of 1999 with a wealth of new server
oriented features, a slightly (very slightly) touched up user interface compared
to the Warp 4 client we all know and love, and updated 32-bit networking support
which was previously available only as a separate package from IBM. Warp Server
For eBusiness would probably be a nice upgrade from the current Warp client, but
the cost is well over US$1,000, placing it well out of the price range of most home
and SOHO users. On the plus side, if you can afford it, you won't need to apply
fixpack after fixpack to gain year 2000 compliance, the latest Java virtual machine,
support for the Euro currency symbol, and efficient networking protocols which resist
even the most ferocious service attacks that bring down Windows systems worldwide
on a daily basis. It's all available in the one install process, the way Warp 4
was compared to Warp 3. In WSeB you also get the ability to manage Windows NT servers
(yes, servers not just workstations) so if you've got a business with multiple departmental
servers, WSeB can work alongside them or as a master server overseeing and protecting
the entire operation.
Finally, Styler/2 http://acsoft.ghostbbs.cx/
made its way into the shareware market with a registerable version 1.0 late in the
year. Styler/2 used to be called SmartWindows and provides a number of WorkPlace
Shell enhancements to title bars, buttons, window sizing and positioning, and more.
If you've ever thought the default Warp 3 or 4 interface was kind of drab or even
ugly, you should most certainly give Styler/2 a try! What it can do for OS/2's look
and feel is enough to make me wonder why IBM did such a terrible job designing interface
elements in the first place. Styler/2 is small and easily configurable, allowing
the user to add his or her own title bar and button images beyond the wealth that
are included with the program.
That and IBM steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the potential market for OS/2.
Even after years of misleading and irresponsible press and IBM's lack of dedication,
OS/2 outsells IBM's expectations. Rather than put even the slightest effort into
fostering this greater-than-expected interest on the part of PC users by providing
sensible updates to the OS, IBM has withdrawn further and yanked some of the most
popular free add-ons (like Netscape Communicator and Java) out of the freeware market
and into the Software Choice by-subscription-only service which has produced very
little of interest over the past two years. As of this writing, it remains to be
seen whether the system fixpacks will be placed into the subscription section as
So don't expect a new Warp 4.5 client to go along with Warp Server For eBusiness.
But there is always a bright spot if you look hard enough! Project Odin http://www.netlabs.org/odin
(the Win32-OS/2 application converter) has received a new update and promises more
to come this year, so it just might be possible to convert a few truly useful Windows
programs into OS/2 programs to avoid having to use such an inferior operating system.
Another, similar, project known as EverBlue is porting Linux/X11 tools to the OS/2
Presentation Manager to allow for easier porting of X-based applications to PM.
Assuming both projects live up to their expectations, OS/2 is far from useless.
In fact its usefulness will increase as hundreds if not thousands of newly ported
applications flood onto the scene. Such applications currently consist of the Opera
web browser and GIMP, the open-source Adobe PhotoShop work-alike. Odin has reportedly
been successful in getting Lotus Notes R5 to load (but not yet fully functional)
under OS/2 as well as perfectly converting CDRLabel 4.1 with full support for both
designing and printing CD labels, Adobe Acrobat Distiller 3.01 for creating PDF
documents, the Windows Help system, and even Microsoft Word 6.0 (NT 3.51 edition)
is said to work!
So when you look at it, the only developer not moving OS/2 forward is IBM. Most
of the so-called 3rd party developers, Peter Nielsen http:www.pmview.com,
BluePrint Software Works http://www.blueprintsoftware.com/,
OS/2 Netl@bs http://www.netlabs.org and countless
others, are making OS/2 more useful every week without IBM's assistance! OS/2 users
and enthusiasts around the world continue to celebrate OS/2's vitality with an annually-increasing
number of OS/2-specific conventions such as Warpstock, Warpstock Europe, Warp Expo
West, and this year's coming Phoenix OS/2 Society WarpTech http://www.possi.org/warptech/.
And through it all, V.O.I.C.E. is here reporting the great news to you and allowing
you avenues to voice your opinions and needs for OS/2's past, present and future.
Though our official anniversary may be in the midst of springtime, 2000 marks our
4th year covering your world. We are unveiling new features such as WarpDoctor where
users can post questions to OS/2 experts in specific fields and access the tremendous
wealth of knowledge available across the internet which makes OS/2 truly useful
in our daily lives.
But we couldn't do it without all of you. And you couldn't do it if OS/2 wasn't
the all around best operating system money could buy throughout the 1990's. With
or without IBM's consent, OS/2 will remain strong and viable for a wide range of
uses for several years to come. Beyond that point, Linux might eventually manage
to become user friendly and BeOS might acquire hundreds of new developers and far
better hardware support to replace OS/2 on all of our systems. But I know I'm not
giving up my OS/2 anytime soon.